What happens when women represent 7 out of every 10 students across an entire class of colleges?
Men’s athletics get the ax – or more accurately, they get clear-cut.
This is the situation facing historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as they struggle to comply with Title IX and its “proportionality standard,” according to a report in ESPN’s race and culture site The Undefeated:
When Clark Atlanta University announced this summer that it was suspending its men’s track and field program, alarms were sounded in some corners of the historically black colleges and universities landscape — as well in the community at large.
Here is a school in Atlanta, which hosted the Summer Olympics just 20 years ago. Those games featured gold medal-winning sprinter Michael Johnson and long jumper Carl Lewis.
Was there not sufficient momentum built to sustain a viable track and field program for at least a couple of generations?
Isn’t there an almost unlimited number of potential men in the Atlanta area alone who can run and jump?
Clark Atlanta is 74 percent women – yet the athletic director cited “resources, competitiveness, gender equity and facilities” as factors behind the decision to “right-size the department.”
— Saving Sports (@SavingSports) August 1, 2016
It’s emblematic of schools in predominantly black conferences, where more than a dozen sports – “mainly of the nonrevenue variety” – have been dropped or suspended in the past five years.
Because “HBCUs are facing stiffer competition for students from predominantly white mid-major institutions looking to keep all their numbers in balance,” their sports programs are out of whack.
The commissioner of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference said baseball is “on the watch” and men’s tennis “is a concern. I am concerned about the men’s sports in our conference.”
It’s not just male athletes that suffer – it’s the people of color that coach them, according to Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Commissioner Gregory Moore:
“Although HBCUs make up approximately 5 percent of NCAA institutions, 32 out of 38 NCAA Division II African-American head football coaches for example [almost 90 percent] are employed at HBCUs.
“So when an HBCU institution drops a sport, it’s not simply a loss of an invaluable participation opportunity for our student-athletes, but very often a person of color has also lost a coaching opportunity at a time when we desperately need more minority and women coaches — not less.”
IMAGE: Brook Ward/Flickr